Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I want a word that means the opposite of personification.

What is the correct word for describing people with the characteristics of an object/as if they are objects?

I found the word chremamorphism on some forums, but it doesn't seem to be included in the two online dictionaries I searched.

share|improve this question
Tip: a word's opposite is its antonym. When I want an opposite, I find it useful to search Google for that word and "antonym". –  Hugo Oct 22 '11 at 9:50
@Hugo: thanks for that tip. –  nicholas ainsworth Oct 23 '11 at 4:50

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Objectification seems apt to me.

share|improve this answer

Depending on the context, perhaps "dehumanization" might be an apt term.

share|improve this answer

I've got to object: in one sense the antonym is abstraction personification has three distinct meanings; this illustrates that there can be more than one antonym:

  1. The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form
  2. A figure intended to represent an abstract quality ('the design on the franc shows Marianne, the personification of the French republic')
  3. A person, animal, or object regarded as representing or embodying a quality, concept, or thing (he was the very personification of British pluck and diplomacy)

As an example of personification (meaning 2): "The White House intends to veto any legislation on X... Press Secretary Carney discussed this with journalists."

I would say the opposite of personification (meaning 2) is abstraction. Houses are not capable of vetoing things, but to say that is neither dehumanizing, nor chremamorphism nor objectification.

Whereas Chremamorphism is the 'opposite' as in the reverse direction of 3., i.e. giving characteristics of an object to a person.

share|improve this answer
It would not be abstraction. That would be making a human into an abstract concept. It would be objectification, in that you are making a human have characteristics of an inanimate object in a similar way an inanimate object is said to have human traits with personification. –  Jared Oct 2 at 16:02

I always liked reification. It's primary meaning is making abstract things concrete, but it can also be used as a synonym to dehumanization. The nice thing about reification-personification opposition is that the words are symmetrical (rei + ficare, personae + ficare).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.